Rev. Monsignor Anselm Nwaorgu, Ph.D 

Timing what I want to say

Msgr. Anselm Nwaorgu, Ph.D.


My dear friends, have you ever felt like “giving somebody a piece of your mind”, telling them off, “telling it as it is” or defending what you had just said as “being direct and honest”? At one time or the other, any one of us may have followed through with any of these emotions. Yet, Immanuel Kant, a German Philosopher had this to say, “All that one says may be true, but it is not necessary to say all that is true.”  The Gospel reading of Ascension Thursday brought this stack reality to the forefront when, Christ, while giving His disciples last instructions, before His Ascension, said to them: “I have much more to tell you, but you cannot bear it now”. This is Emotional Intelligence (EQ) at its best. What this tells us is that Christ was attuned to the emotional state of His disciples as He spoke to them, their psychological disposition, and their readiness to embrace what He was teaching them. He was paying attention to the possible impact of what he had to say has upon His disciples. 


The truth about life is that Life is not only about what we have to say; it is also about when it is said. It is important to be aware of what people are feeling, what they are going through, and how what we want to say impacts them. There is a saying that an intelligent man knows what to say and says it, but a wise man knows what to say and when not to say it. The book of Proverbs says: “…a word in season, how good it is" (Proverbs 15:23) and that “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver” (Proverb 25:11).


You see, words are powerful, and once uttered they have a way of landing inside peoples’ hearts and remaining there for a long time. They forever become part of the record; they cannot be unspoken nor can they be withdrawn.  You can say “I have taken it back”; people can forgive you for saying what you said, but what you said is never forgotten. Words do build or break peoples’ hearts, business deals, and human relationships.

It is important that we develop sensitivity to other peoples’ feelings, emotions, and psychological states; to be able to measure what people need to hear and what they don’t need to hear. The book of James admonishes us “Don’t be too eager to tell others their faults, for we all make many mistakes” (3:1).  My friends, “A few words spoken in haste can destroy a relationship that took years to build.”


So, let us consider not just what we want to say but also when we can say it. It is much better to wait, to say what we need to say, until we have the timing right, than to race to say what we need to say and say it at the wrong time only to find out that what we had to say has yielded nothing but anger, mistrust, disengagement, and chaos. It is important for us to understand that time is not always now for everything and that more important than what we have to say, is when we can say it, and how we need to say it.